Final year project
Acid Attack Survivors in India. [Read more]
The portrait of Geeta displayed in a saree, presents her worth, value and ability to face the world. The portrait has been screen-printed onto the saree to present the key themes within my project: bravery, equality and courage. While screen-printing, I faced some issues with aligning the image correctly and with choosing which colours to print so that the portrait appeared visible for the viewer to see. I eventually overcame these by testing on a range of saree materials and experimenting by using different colours which then I decided to print using a 4-colour separation of CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black). I had some difficulties when printing onto textiles too, this is because the paints sometimes did not blend well, I did not add enough printing medium and at first, I did not have a block white background. As I kept exploring different methods, I understood what I needed to do so that I could achieve a visible portrait on a saree. I have chosen to hang the saree on a hanger to symbolise domesticity and how in some cases these women have been attacked by their own family members. It suggests that these women are ordinary women and are from normal working-class backgrounds but have been brutally disfigured, outcasted from society. My work overall is a social and political statement as it outlines how these women were not given enough support from the government to receive medical help and prevent the sale of acid that is still widely available.
Rukaiya- Portrait Drawing
This portrait I have drawn of Rukaiya, an acid attack survivor from the 'Chhanv Foundation' charity organisation, was drawn using my virtual sitting and zoom stills. In my virtual sitting with her, I got to understand her psyche and character more where we discussed her life, interests and family. By making a comfortable and friendly environment for her, she allowed me to get to know her better, which broke down the artist and sitter barrier. Furthermore, having a facial disfigurement can make people more conscious of what they look like, this demonstrated that she gave the authority to stare and inspect her face. I believe this allowed me to achieve a well-detailed portrait of the woman who is not only presented with worth and value but someone who is happy and hasn't let their past struggles keep them from living their life.
Roopa- Portrait Drawing
This colour pencil drawing I have drawn of Roopa was also drawn from using my virtual sitting with the 'Chhanv Foundation'. Using a dry medium has allowed me to concentrate on the level of detail I want to present in the drawings, controlling the amount of pressure needed to apply to get the correct tone and balance in the portrait. Moreover, using colour pencils to draw, has shown my ability to blend a range of different colours and bring a sense of beauty, fulfilment and joy to the portrait. The sitter is also wearing a saree, a long garment that holds a lot of value to Indian women all over the world. It presents pride, belonging and confidence which I hope to have presented these qualities within the portrait drawing of Roopa too.
Kunti- Portrait Drawing
The portrait of Kunti, is another colour pencil drawing. I have shown that I am able to draw from different angles and positions. In this drawing, I have shown a range of tones in her skin and through the use of line I have displayed her unique scars. Drawing this portrait was difficult as I do not personally know the woman, I tried to encapsulate her joy and beauty in the drawing by only using one photograph. Kunti's portrait radiates happiness and presents hope for many women who have fallen victim to abuse.
Bala- Portrait Drawing
This drawing of Bala is prominent because we are instantly drawn into the high level of contrast used to draw her portrait. I have used a range of different flesh colours to accurately present her skin pigmentation and her scarring. I believe it was important for me to portray her accurately so that her portrait is recognisable to her friends and those that know her. I have again used a head and shoulders composition to strip away any context for the viewers so that they can focus and think about who the woman is and inspect her face.
Ritu- Portrait Drawing
This is a striking portrait as the viewer is instantly drawn to her eyes. Ritu, unfortunately, has one fake eye due to her fatal attack. I believe that I have drawn a 'valid' portrait of her because I have presented her unique features and character within the drawing. Using colour pencils has given me the ability to present my drawing techniques: my attention to detail and blending skills to display a beautiful portrait of a brave woman. Throughout my project, I have been studying imperfections and why they are important for women to embrace. I have displayed that these women who have suffered a fatal attack and trauma are now flourishing and will continue to love themselves for who they are and not what they appear like.
Geeta- Portrait Drawing
This colour pencil portrait drawing of Geeta, presents high-level detail and bold colours. The face and neck composition strips the context and allows the viewer to focus on the face alone. I have displayed my skill to draw accurately and bring life and dimension to the flat surface through my use of tone and detail to mark out her unique facial features. It is clear that I have shown my ability to blend a range of flesh colours so that I can display depth and shape within her face and bone structure.
Red Saree- Portrait Drawing
This drawing was the first portrait I drew of an acid attack survivor. I was still experimenting with composition, my subject choice and understanding why I wanted to draw these courageous women. Drawing this woman's portrait encouraged me to research how these women have been affected and how they have overcome their struggles and trauma. Looking at this small portrait had given me a very resonating feeling which was powerful, overwhelming and beautiful. It had a great impact on me as a woman, so I wanted to explore this subject further and see if I am able to help and make a change. Since then, I have been researching the sale of acid, the caste system and the patriarchy within India.
I have been investigating violence against women in India and how living in a patriarchal society and class system, has damaged women mentally and physically. I have concentrated on women who have suffered violent acid attacks in India because it is my ethnic background and heritage.
Through my art practice, I want to help voice the struggles of women who have been silenced. I have drawn portraits of brave and courageous women to present their worth, value and power to unite as women, against society. My practice is specifically focused on drawing and portraiture, and I have been exploring different techniques, methods and mediums that would work more effectively to present my intention. My artwork forces people to look and stare at disfigured features, which can make them feel uncomfortable but encourages them to look at how these women have been scarred. It creates a sense of inescapable blame and responsibility in the hands of society and constrains the viewer to see the irreversible damage. One of my themes within my practice is to achieve ‘likeness’. So, I have been studying what makes a valid portrait and how ‘likeness’ can be achieved. I believe I have explored a range of skills throughout this project: I have understood what qualities make a valid portrait, how to create a comfortable sitting experience, I have experimented with different drawing mediums and learnt how to screen-print portraits onto fabrics. To present the portraits, I have specifically chosen to use a saree as a canvas, to symbolise equality, womanhood and pride. They present unity, courage and the determination for these women to rise up after these disastrous attacks. This, therefore, spreads more awareness of the crime and could help stimulate a movement for stricter laws on the sale of acid.
Final year project
Acid Attack Survivors in India.
During my final year at Loughborough University, I have been the Media and Communications Officer for 'Loughborough's Women's Network.' We are a group of self-identifying women representing the students of Loughborough University. My role within this network is to create the graphics for the events and discussions that we host for other university students and communicate with other societies on social media to raise awareness. Throughout the year, we have had many informative discussions about Violence Against Women in the UK, Black Feminism, International Women's Week and BAME Women in Loughborough as well as hosting online events. We have raised money for charities too. I personally completed the 'Movember' challenge of running/ walking 60K in a month. Moreover, I have also hosted 'Draw with Me' Life Drawing classes to teach other students some of my drawing techniques. As the host and advisor, I created a presentation that showed how to approach the process of drawing a person's body and what elements they must think about while mark-making. During these classes, I created a calm and relaxed environment for others so that they were able to concentrate and focus on the tasks I had set. Throughout, I would advise them on how to be accurate with their proportions and how to implement tone and shape to their work. I believe that being a Women's Network Officer has taught me many things and has given me a sense of confidence to talk to people and discuss important matters such as domestic abuse, homophobia and sexual harassment openly so that as a society we can help those suffering and bring a change to our community.